The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission offers higher pay to compete with the financial sector. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Question: Where are federal salaries the highest?

Answer: By agency, it’s at two that pay especially high rates to compete for employees with the financial industries they regulate, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

As of September, the average salary at the SEC was $177,488; the FDIC average salary was $142,616. The medians — the point where half are above and half below — were $188,781 and $139,929, respectively. Also in the top five by one or both measures were the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NASA, Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department.

Government-wide the average salary was $83,072 and the median $77,490.

Recently released government data placed the Air Force and the Agriculture and Veterans Affairs departments at the bottom of the list.

By occupational category, professional positions pay the most — a $106,348 average salary and a $98,289 median — followed by administrative, other white-collar, blue-collar, technical and clerical positions in declining order.

Geographically, salaries are highest in the top management-heavy District of Columbia (a $114,288 average and a $112,577 median), Maryland ($101,962, $101,361) and Virginia ($92,232, $89,949), and lowest in South Dakota, Kentucky and Wyoming.

Remember, government jobs are not a cross-section of the overall American workforce.